I live in the semi-tropics, and we have a problem with fungus and termites here, things that can affect the longevity of canvas and wood. I imagine that synthetic rubber floor mats should have better longevity than traditional painting bases. Acrylic paints stick very well to the material.
Also, there is nothing to say that a square needs to be hung in the traditional manner. I find that hanging these unusual paintings diagonally is much more exciting. Also, the interlocking edges of the floor mats make a much jazzier edge than the straight edges of traditional canvases.
Framing is an obvious challenge for paintings with non-straight edges, and DIY frames have never been a strong point of mine. Commercial frames can be expensive. I solved the problem by extruding silicone rubber around the edge to make wavy-edge frames that follow the contours of the mats. Although the silicone does not stick at all well to the rubber, the silicone locks onto the jig-saw edge. Another instructable will probably come along later, once I get more experience with the framing.
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Step 1: Painting Techniques
The floor mats do not really need a gesso coat for the acrylics to stick well, but I often use one anyway, sometimes with color added. All the traditional painting techniques used for traditional canvas painting work.
The floor mats are mold made, and can have a variety of textures, such as smooth, screen, and floor plate textures. I prefer to paint on the smooth ones.
Step 2: Studio Ideas
As an easel, I use a piece of plywood that can be raised and lowered on two vertical pipes by means of PVC plastic holders that slide up and down on the pipes and are held in place with hose clamps. Holes are drilled in the plywood for the placement of nails upon which the floor mats rest. The nails can be pulled out and re-positioned in other holes, if needed. Clips at the top made of clothes pins keep the floor mat from falling forward, since the easel is vertical.
Work lights clamp onto a horizontal piece of pipe suspended from overhead. I use daylight fluorescent bulbs.
I like to work on several paintings at once. To store half-finished paintings, I make springy wire holders that hook onto the wavy edges and let me hang them in the air. For one thing that keeps them out of the reach of my cats, who love to sharpen their claws on floor mat material.
Step 3: Frames
Silicone rubber comes in standard colors, like clear, white, black, gray, and brown. A simple black frame is easy to make by extruding directly from the grease gun cartridge of silicone around the edge of the painting.
The rubber floor mats tend to warp when hung on a wall. The silicone frame tends to keep the mat from warping. I work a stiffening piece of aluminum channel material onto the back to further prevent warping. and give me secure points to attach the hanging wire to. I use Gorilla Glue to stick most of it to the back surface of the floor mat and lock the ends of the aluminum into the silicone frame with more silicone. Thus far, no problems.
Silicone rubber does not stick well to the rubber floor mat material, but since it locks onto the edge's wavy protrusions, it stays in place. Since it doesn't stick to the rubber, one can make a cut through the frame and remove it if needed. Fancy color variations can be made using clear silicone and powdered pigments for special colors.
Another instructable will probably be coming along when I get more experience with the framing.